Fomes fomentarius (commonly known as the tinder fungus, false tinder fungus, hoof fungus, tinder conk, tinder polypore or ice man fungus) is a species of fungal plant pathogen found in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
Ötzi the Iceman & Amadou
Ötzi is a nickname given to a well preserved natural mummy of a man who lived around 3,300 BCE. He was found in the Ötzal Alps near the border between Austria and Italy.
Among Ötzi's possessions were berries, two birch bark baskets, and two species of polypore mushrooms with leather strings through them. One of these, the birch fungus, is known to have anthelmintic properties, and was probably used for medicinal purposes. The other was a type of tinder fungus, included with part of what appeared to be a complex firelighting kit. The kit featured pieces of over a dozen different plants, in addition to flint and pyrite for creating sparks.
Incidentally, a team of researchers who analyzed Ötzi's body, found the genome of Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterium that causes Lyme disease and they speculate that tattoos on the iceman’s spine and ankles and behind his right knee could have been an attempt to treat the joint pain that occurs when the condition goes untreated. (Nature, doi:10.1038/nature.2012.10130)
In Romania and Hungaria, hats and bags are made from the amadou pieces through a traditional process. It was developed by creative artisans in Eastern Europe during communist rule as a means of getting by when other resources were low.
These items are made using large sheets of fungus from beech trees. The feel is like the softest suede. The hats are warm in winter and cool in summer.